I’m sure stranger things have happened than being a distant relation to the great Bob Marley but this certainly warrants a little more investigating before I write this idea off completely.
It all started over Christmas when I decided to take up Amazon’s offer to try ‘Amazon Prime’ for a month with the promise of free movies and postage. I’m not a huge movie watcher but liked the idea of watching some free films over Christmas.
Scanning through the list of films it became apparent that the blockbusters came at a cost – so much for the free movies Amazon! Anyway I did come across a free film ‘Marley’ the story about Bob Marley. I’ve always had an affinity with this great man as my parents came from Jamaica so I downloaded it.
I decided to do some ironing my least favourite job while I watched on my iPad. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’d never seen the film advertised, I don’t remember seeing any trailers for it. Was Bob’s story going to be portrayed by actors? That would be something to see, I would have been impressed with actors trying to master ‘Patwah’!
The opening scenes suggested it’s more of a film length documentary with lots of footage of Bob singing live, mixed with interviews from people who knew him. The opening scene was an elderly school teacher singing a song that Bob liked to sing, in her loveliest/cutest Patwah, with subtitles! I didn’t need them I was used to listening to my Mum and Aunties talk Patwah all the time!
The next scene was an interviewer asking Bob how did it all start and what part of Jamaica was he from. Bob in his cool, smooth voice answered St Anns. That’s got my attention! My Mum was born in St Anns. Hey that’s cool my Mum was growing up in Jamaica at the same time as Bob Marley.
It was just a couple minutes more as I was ironing away when a man said “Bob Marley was my cousin and we were all born in our Grandparents House”. I just happened to look up at this moment to see a grey haired old my who reminded me of my mother’s brother, Uncle Val who still lived out in Jamaica. In reality most Jamaican men look like my Uncle Val so I didn’t think much of it but just as he finished his sentence, his name popped up onto the screen. ‘Sledgo Peart, Cousin’.
I nearly jumped out of my skin! Peart is my Mum’s family name and only recently came up when my 2nd cousin mentioned it in her Genealogy research into our family.
Oh wow, now my head was spinning! Questions were jumping into my head! ‘Peart’ I wonder if that’s a common name? I wonder if Bob and my Mum were born in the same village? Could they be cousins? How exciting! All I wanted to do is call my mother and ask her questions but it was a bit late to call her so I continued to watch the film trying to glean more information that would connect my Mum to Mr Bob Marley.
Bob was born in a place called ‘Nine Mile’ in 1945. My mum was born in 1940 so they could have grown up together! I decided to google where nine mile was on a map, it was in the south westerly part. I didn’t know exactly what part of St Anns my Mum was from but with my detective head on I deduced it was feasible for my mum to live in the same area as Bob because my Dad, who was from Clarendon (the adjoining district South of St Anns) used to cycle to the adjoining villages and where he met my mum.
As soon as I could, I was on the phone to my Mum. She tells me she remembers the community of ‘Nine Mile’ but was born in a place called ‘Aboukir’. And when she was still a baby in arms her family moved to Clarendon so dreams of Bob and her growing up together were immediately dashed. Whilst I’ve not seen Nine Mile and Aboukir on the same map, they looked to be about 5 miles away from each other. But the strongest bit of evidence is my Mother’s grandmother’s name was ‘Isabella Peart’ so it is feasible that Bob and my Mum could have descended from the same family.
Jamaican history is a notoriously difficult subject so I don’t think I’ll be getting to the bottom of this anytime soon. Records are few and far between and each person seems to have numerous pet names and nicknames in each town they frequent. Added to different baby mothers and grandparents bringing up grandchildren as their own makes the whole subject a hot mess! Whether I’m related to Bob Marley or not, watching this film has brought about a connection to my ancestors that I never had before so if nothing else I’m thankful for that. And to know Bob Marley triumphed above all the hardships he experienced in his life only inspires me more in my own life.
Decide for yourself! Here's a picture of my Uncle Val on the left and Sledgo Peart on the right